An open letter to Mark Ruffalo

Mark Ruffalo, with Sunrise Coigney 

at the opening of Marvel's The Avengers

Photo: Flicker/ Ricky Brigante 

Dear Mr. Ruffalo:

I applaud your advocacy against the growing practice of “fracking.” This invasive technique penetrates deep into shale deposits and injects into the earth millions of gallons of chemically laden water. This shatters rock and releases natural gas. But for all its benefits, fracking has many drawbacks. And yet it has been used with increasing frequency across many portions of the United States and across the globe.

As you note in this Metro opinion piece,   

[t]he cause of groundwater contamination, air pollution and even earthquakes, fracking is also disastrous for the climate because it releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. 

For such reasons, I and many others have also raised concerns about fracking. But because of your fame, many hear your voice and not ours. And so your strong words against fracking have offered you and this issue a great deal of attention, from Rolling Stone Magazine, the New York Times, and many other forums.

Of late, you have also received attention for your recent words supporting abortion—and here is where you and I part ways. You see, Mr. Ruffalo, I cannot be concerned about human life in one issue but not another. 

Fracking penetrates the earth and shatters shale with harsh chemicals and in so doing unleashes pollution that harms people—born and unborn. The invasive practice of abortion does similar harm—and much worse. Abortion causes damage in ways that you seem to be ignoring, just as fracking proponents ignore the harms of that practice.

In your statement, you tell a personal story about your mom and her abortion. Let me then speak to you about my mom—and about my grandmother.

In 1927, soon after her first child, my grandmother was living with her in-laws when she became pregnant for a second time. One day, her mother-in-law brought home a small package. She instructed my grandmother to boil its contents and drink the water once it had cooled. This would kill the baby inside her.

My grandmother was scared. She was living in the home of her husband’s parents and was being coerced to abort her child. “My son works too hard already,” said my grandmother's mother-in-law. The legality of abortion was not an issue. Its effects were. And there seemed to be no choice.

Fortunately, my grandmother did not live in a culture that supported the wishes of her mother-in-law over what she knew to be right and just. After great prayer and soul searching, she confronted her husband and her mother-in-law. She demanded that the life within her be allowed to live. Months later, she did have her baby, a girl that would grow up and give birth to me.

As I take care of my mom today as she advances in years, I am saddened at the thought that her grandmother would wish her dead. Similarly, I am saddened that you would be so seemingly carefree about the loss of a sibling. My mom had four miscarriages. Those are four siblings that I will not know in this life but nevertheless count them as brothers and sisters with souls.

Mr. Ruffalo, in the motion picture Marvel's The Avengers you play the character of Dr. Bruce Banner. This damaged soul occasionally morphs into the monster called the Hulk. I would ask you to reflect on this fictional tendency to live as a good man who worries always about releasing a harmful force into the world.

Abortion always kills a baby and harms a woman—always. The worst of abortion's consequences are permanent. That you would encourage this is horrible—more so than any computer generated monster that Hollywood’s wizards can conjure.

In your letter, you write 

I actually trust the women I know. I trust them with their choices, I trust them with their bodies and I trust them with their children. I trust that they are decent enough and wise enough and worthy enough to carry the right of Abortion and not be forced to criminally exercise that Right at the risk of death or jail time. 

Might I ask you to ponder the medical information about the development of human lifeand be good enough to encourage abortion providers to share this information with the woman who come to them (or are brought to them)? And then, with the fullness of trust in women—which you and I share—allow this information to be part of their choices.

Later you write, 

I invite you to search your soul and ask yourself if you actually stand for what you say you stand for. Thank you for being here today and thank you for standing up for the women in my life. 

Likewise, I invite you to search your soul. I ask you to find within you the concern for human life that you so boldly champion in your fight against fracking. Then consider if you are ignoring this concern with your encouragement of the killing of innocents and the scaring of pregnant woman.

You see Mr. Ruffalo, I, too, am concerned about the woman in your life and the women everywhere—here, now, born, unborn, and for all the generations yet to come, assuming, of course, that thy are allowed the right to life.

May God bless you always.

Bill Patenaude

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About the Blog

Catholic Ecology posts my regular column in the Rhode Island Catholic, as well as scientific and theological commentary about the latest eco-news, both within and outside of the Catholic Church. What is contained herein is but one person's attempt to teach and defend the Church's teachings - ecological and otherwise. As such, I offer all contents of this blog for approval of the bishops of the Church. It is my hope that nothing herein will lead anyone astray from truth.